We added a couple of WD740 Raptor hard drives running in RAID 0 on the Sil3114R RAID controller with twin XFX 6800GTs in SLI on Forceware 76.45 drivers. We then ran SYSmark 2004, 3DMark05 v1.2.0 on standard settings and Doom3 v1.3 on High Quality with a resolution of 1280×1024 and 4xFSAA enabled. We had an FX-53 and a Venice 3800+ to hand for the purposes of comparison, but unfortunately not an FX-55. While we were surprised that the FX-53 and 3800+ had such similar performance, it came as no surprise that the FX-57 stormed through the tests with a SYSmark score of 234 marks and a Doom3 score of 70.1fps, while the 3DMark05 was barely changed as it isn’t CPU limited with a pair of 6800GTs.
Naturally we tried to use the overclocking features that Asus includes in the BIOS. You select a military rank that sounds appealing and the BIOS does all the hard work for you, in theory at least. Starting with the Colonel setting +7% = 2996MHz the PC froze in a matter of moments. Next we tried the Captain setting +5% = 2940MHz which suffered a similar fate and then we opted for the Sergeant setting +3% = 2891MHz which also froze but took a little longer to do so.
So the overclocking was a complete non-starter which is a bit of a shame but as the Asus A8N had a Beta BIOS installed we think it’s safe to point the finger of blame in that direction. Obviously though, we aren’t in a position to say how much the FX-57 will overclock when the BIOS is sorted out or how it will behave on other motherboards, but that all lies in the future.
So you want an FX-57 and we can’t blame you or more likely you’re now rubbing your hands in anticipation of buying an FX-55 after the inevitable price cut. Up to now, AMD has had a policy that only one model of FX processor would be available at any time. But that’s about to change and while the FX-57 will go on sale at $1,031/1,000 the FX-55 will continue to sell at its official price of $827/1,000 which translates to £590 including VAT in the UK.
But look at that price again. Overclockers.com already has the FX-57 listed at £764 inc VAT, which is the sort of money that some people pay for a car or a holiday. Not necessarily a good car or a good holiday of course, but we’re talking about a serious amount of cash for a single processor with just the one core.
AMD is absolutely clear that the FX-57 is ideal for the gamer who is only concerned with getting the ultimate in performance but we’re not so sure. For one thing there’s the practical consideration of the upgrade path. The FX-51 and FX-53 started off on Socket 940 before the FX platform moved to Socket 939 so the people who would gain the most from an upgrade will have to buy a new motherboard, as well as non-ECC memory. And if you’re running an FX-55 on a recent Socket 939 motherboard then you’ll have to check that your motherboard will support the FX-57. Even then, the improvement will be relatively small and if you’re running a slow Athlon 64 then where on earth did you suddenly find the £800 to blow on a bit of silicon?